Chase Sapphire Reserve News: I Don’t Expect Much, and I Don’t Care
I’ve been entertained by all of the moves the big banks have made to their ultra-premium cards due to the pandemic. We have felt the ripple effects at the more basic, no fee card level, as well. It’s led to much uncertainty, conjecture, and dusting off of crystal balls. Shocker – I have zero connections to the industry and don’t know anything. So much in this hobby is out of our control. With some stuff though, I know how I will inevitably play the hand dealt to me. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one such item. Here’s what I think of the Chase Sapphire Reserve news and non-news, including why I don’t care.
UPDATE: Since this article’s completion, Chase has unveiled a temporary earning adjustment to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve. The Reserve’s travel/gas/grocery credit deadline was also extended. My overall thoughts described below still apply.
Chase Sapphire Reserve News and Developments
Remember back in May when Chase announced Pay Yourself Back? It seems like forever ago. It’s hilarious how I’ve gotten so used to this benefit so quickly, as if it’s something I’ve been accustomed to forever. Perhaps part of that is because I’ve been cashing out Ultimate Rewards points at 1 cent per point for years. At any rate, I not surprisingly have loved my second dance with the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) ever since I product changed my fifth Chase Freedom back in May. I, and many of you, are getting 50% more for something we were already doing. Win.
But then, Chase wacks us on the side of the head with the Freedom Flex. Okay, sure, same as the old Freedom, but also 3x at drug stores and dining. Also, the Flex has a steroid-juiced welcome offer – $200 for $500 spend, plus $600 for $12k grocery spend in the first cardmember year. And a very helpful 0% APR for 15 months so that some less attentive individuals can drive up spend on the welcome offer which they can’t afford to pay off in month 16.
Most recently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with an 80k welcome offer, including on referrals. Rumors swirled weeks ago about some supposed big Chase news coming on October 5th, but alas, nothing substantial materialized.
What I’m Expecting
Soon after the Flex announcement, we heard lots of talk about how Chase will surely update the Chase Sapphire Preferred and/or Reserve. After all, the Flex is so attractive, how could the Preferred and Reserve survive? Chase took a bath on the inflated Reserve launch offer. I’m more inclined to think Chase knows more what they are doing this go-round as it relates to the Reserve (and Preferred). Consequently, here’s what I’m expecting:
- Chase’s Pay Yourself Back will continue indefinitely, but on an incremental basis. Similar to how they announced the benefit in May and extended it in September, I think Chase will continue to follow this pattern. In effect, Chase can play both sides to their advantage here. They can continue to draw customers in with the extra 25% and 50% point values and advertise accordingly. Simultaneously, they have an easy out if Pay Yourself Back becomes an unprofitable/unnecessary feature for them.
- Pay Yourself Back will get minor or moderate tweaks. For instance, Chase could decide to change the categories one can redeem points for with 25% and 50% additional value. Many of us are enjoying the current categories, particularly grocery stores, but Chase can continue touting this attractive feature on different categories that may be a bit more challenging for hobbyists to reap outsized rewards. I see this as much more likely than Pay Yourself Back disappearing.
- If Chase decides to add new features to the card, they will be relatively minor and perhaps reliant on new or deeper partnerships. I expect these would be everyday rewards not necessarily involving travel. This would mean more “good stuff” for Chase to market but also opens the door to more breakage (good stuff goes unused). An easy tweak would be more Door Dash funds than the current calendar year amount ($60), but options are seemingly endless here.
What I’m Not Expecting
Here’s the other side of the coin:
- First off, I’m not expecting Chase to permanently raise earning rates in any major categories. Of course, banks like to differentiate their respective ultra-premium products, but what other card at that level has some amazing earning rate in a major category (beyond travel or dining)? Chase doesn’t have any outside competition forcing them to increase rates. And why would Chase create the Flex card and its earning rates if they were concerned about the earning rates of the Reserve or Preferred? Sorry, but I don’t see Chase bringing in the Flex to force their own hand on the Reserve or Preferred.
- I’m not expecting the $300 travel credit amount to change. That said, it may be renamed or recategorized, but I firmly believe it will be broadly and easily applicable to all cardholders regardless.
- Finally, I’m not expecting any other new, amazing feature or benefit to the card at all. With all of the volatility with seemingly everything during our pandemic times, I doubt Chase would take on an aggressive, permanent ultra-premium card enhancement for cardholders.
Why I Don’t Care
Even if my expectations don’t come true and/or everything I don’t expect actually happens, I’m planning to keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the foreseeable future. Here’s why:
- I’m getting solid value out of the card benefits. Each time I’ve held the CSR, I’ve easily used the $300 travel credit on normal spending. This effectively made it a $150 annual fee card the first time, and a $250 annual fee card now. A step further, I’ve gotten even more value out of the Door Dash benefit than I expected. I initially valued this at 90%, but I now value this benefit at the full $60 annual amount. For our style, Door Dash has been much more useful than other services like GrubHub and Uber Eats. We’ve surprisingly enjoyed the Dash Pass benefit, as well.
- I’m not looking to be overly active with Chase product changes. I’m very active with spending on Chase cards, particularly our four Ink Business Cash and four Freedom accounts. Consequently, I’m not wanting to potentially rock the boat with more product changes. Perhaps I’m just being overly careful – that’s fine with me.
- I was okay with the as-is long term CSR benefits when I product changed to it in May. Before I decided to upgrade, I reconciled the fact I was okay holding the CSR long-term. How? I simply calculated the lucrative near-term rewards (an extra $2.5k via Pay Yourself Back) and put those next to the much smaller long-term expenses of holding the card. It was an easy decision.
Chase Sapphire Reserve News – Conclusion
I’ll be pleasantly surprised if any new, useful CSR benefits arrive, but I’m not expecting it. And I don’t foresee something so negative happening that would force my hand to make a change. With so much news in the hobby, it’s easy to talk oneself into thinking everything is apt to change. But sometimes, stuff doesn’t change, and that’s okay! And this is how I feel about the CSR. What’s your take?